Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Muckle Man

Last night, we braved the freezing temperatures to check out the 9 p.m. performance of the new play "The Muckle Man" at City Theater on Pittsburgh's South Side.

"The Muckle Man" is one of the "New American Trio," which City Theater's Website bills as "an innovative series that will produce three new plays by three talented playwrights writing for a single acting company cast in multiple roles."

"Muckle Man" was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who also writes The Sensational Spider-Man for Marvel Comics. Last week, the P-G did a story on the play's innovative marketing campaign.

Here is City Theater's description of the show:

"The mysteries of the The Muckle Man awaken from the deep waters of isolated Conception Bay in Newfoundland, where marine biologist Addison Clark and his assistant Gilbert Messenger have come to search for Architeuthis, the elusive giant squid. The lives of the scientist and his family ­– wife Marina, their two young sons Harvey and Malcolm, and Marina’s sister, Dora – change drastically while at this stormy outpost. When Marina rescues a man who emerges naked from the ocean, the natural world suddenly starts to go off balance. Currents of pop culture, contemporary science, and ancient folklore run through this eerie thriller."

I've enjoyed lots of City Theater performances in the past. And I think it's very good that Pittsburgh has an incubator for new plays. But, I have to say, "Muckle Man" didn't work for me on some levels.

The first act was interesting but the second was not as fulfilling and left too many unanswered questions. The title character was insufficiently developed and had a late plot twist that wasn't well-explained or foreshadowed. The ending was too abrupt. I wasn't expecting a "Hollywood" happy ending but something more reflective is needed for a play that is more sci-fi light than dark drama.

But, there were some good performances in "Muckle Man." I thought Brett Mack as Gilbert Messenger and Tami Dixon as Dora Hand both hit the right notes.

"Muckle Man" has the beginnings of a good new play. Here's hoping for a rewrite.

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